A DUDLEY peace campaign group is making its annual appeal for anyone with a sense of adventure to take part in a trek to scale Britain’s highest mountain.

Annual ascents of Ben Nevis have been taking place since former councillor Steve Waltho decided to rekindle a link between Dudley and the Scottish mountain in the Highlands, near Fort William, back in 2014.

The yearly pilgrimage remembers peace campaigner Bert Bissell, from Dudley, who had climbed the Ben 107 times – taking hundreds of people to its summit where he had the world’s highest peace cairn built.

Some 80 individuals from all walks of life have made 138 ascents of Ben Nevis since the commemorative hikes began.

Alderman Steve Waltho, chairperson of the Bert Bissell Society, said: “We’ve managed to rekindle a link between our towns and have met dignitaries from Fort William and individuals who remember Bert.

“People have climbed with us for a variety of reasons from improving self-esteem to scattering loved ones’ ashes at the summit.

“Last year we had special flags designed by Scotland’s official vexillologist Philip Tibbetts who hails from Halesowen and exchanged them with colleagues from Fort William in an act of peace and mutual respect.”

The annual pilgrimage takes place to commemorate how on VJ Day in August 15 1945 Bert took a group of young men from his Vicar Street Bible Class in Dudley to the summit of Ben Nevis to begin constructing a large peace cairn which is today officially recognised as the highest war memorial in Britain.

Alderman Waltho added “Bert was an incredible man who earned the Freemanship of both Dudley and Lochaber as well as being awarded the MBE by the Queen and the World Methodist Peace Prize.

“His influence went beyond global as he had peace messages taken to the summits of earth’s highest mountains and even to the moon via the Apollo programme.”

Bert died in November 1998 aged 96 and is buried in Glen Nevis beneath his beloved mountain and each year the group visits his grave to pay their respects.

This year’s event will see participants gathering in Fort William on Thursday August 15 ready to climb Ben Nevis on Friday August 16. The climb will be followed on Saturday August 17 with a day of sightseeing followed by a service of commemoration before returning to Dudley on Sunday August 18.

Alderman Waltho added: ““Bert loved encouraging young people to better themselves and we always welcome youngsters but anyone who is interested in joining us simply get in touch.”

Anyone interested in joining the group can contact Steve Waltho by emailing stevewaltho@hotmail.co.uk or calling 07703 308463.